An interesting constellation …, or: anything goes

(well, anything though surely no slide-presentation-simplification)

A colleague in Turkey had been

charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” (Article No. 7/2 of Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law No. 3713) for signing the Academics for Peace statement “We will not be a party to this crime”. The statement criticized military actions in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and called for international observers to monitor the situation in place.

The colleague had been charged, and confronted with a “choice”: accepting being sentenced, with this admitting that the political activism had been a criminal verdict – then being “gratified” with the suspension of the sentence – the alternative: appealing and going to jail if the appeal is rejected.

Looking at it as matter of human rights, the case grasps attention on this/such case as it is the state who hinders the citizen to express a personal opinion – other issues may be raised.The human rights issue is about the fact, that HR emerged especially (if not only) as matter of protecting citizens (thought as being  “global”, though implicitly “private”) against arbitrariness of the state.

So far, so good. Only now comes the interesting part.The message – and call for action – came from the UK, currently also known as BREXITUK and had been sent by a colleague, using the university office mail at the

University of [… ] which is a charity and company limited by guarantee, registered in England ( …)

Hesitation: First, I simply thought “a university”

Second thought (not the first time though): uni as charity sounds strange – education as charity, doing good. Doing so but to and for whom in whose name?

charity (n.)
late Old English, “benevolence for the poor,” also “Christian love in its highest manifestation,” from Old French charité “(Christian) charity, mercy, compassion; alms ….caritas by ‘charity.’ But the 16th c. Eng. versions from …

Doesn’t it say in Mathew 5.3.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Well, this opening for other field . I will have a go for that in another occasion …


For here and now, adding to the puzzlement: does it mean a private body, engaging something like “spirit of general interest”, benevolent to society by providing education. This is actually a tricky one (yes, sloooooooooww reading, more thinking): it easily entails

  • the public, commonly understood as “statutory”, provided by the state, is not providing what it should provide, thus some other instance has to do it


  • The public cannot look after itself, thus an “instance from outside”, e.g. a benevolent “private”

Or it is

  • possibly “benevolence” itself the public and finally becoming true (well, for the philosophers, of course, a bit of Hegel’s cunning of reason and the absolute idea)?

Now, down to earth, nearly trivial, my question was and is: are (those) universities public institutions or not. Later I met Jeremy, how is fearing about the future of his home [he is European] as the Brexiters want to take it off him [well, their name does not say it clearly: they are Brits = they do not want to leave Britain but that want Britain to leave]) and asked him –  he confirmed that nearly all British universities are public.
Part of the exact definition of these universities is then, institutionally and legally that in this case we are dealing with a body that is

“registered as a higher education provider with the Office for Students (OfS) and is subject to the OfS Regulatory Framework. The OfS is also the University’s principal regulator for charity law purposes on behalf of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.”

Is then the OfS the public and who/what is it? Possibly a kind of council, or “soviet” to use another term?

So, coming back to the HR-issue: Having stated

The human rights issue is about the fact, that HR emerged especially (if not only) as matter of protecting citizens (thought as being  “global”, though implicitly “private”) against arbitrariness of the state.

it now means that one state (to be more precise: an institution from one state, or even more precise: somebody working in a representative position of one institution of one state has to stand ups against one the breach of HR by another state.Did I say by another state? Well, more precision would suggestBreach of HR by one person (Erdogan) who claims that he represents the state – as the public – and can thus oblige every citizen to accept those rules, even if they are finally private rules in the sense of the rules an individual defines …

Still to be added: representing in the one case means “speaking for”, in the other case it claims to mean “to be”. ‘L’État, c’est moi’

At the end it surely still remains a lot to be clarified, and even to be formulated as question. I suppose it is a challenge I may pass on to my new students, when commencing teaching next week

Company, business, work

at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.


Swabian Housewife caught

Well, even the Swabian housewife  is on occasions unfolding her own way and casts light and shadow on her path.

One of these occasions had been recently uncovered.

Indeed, harping on about principles, resulted in a disastrous consequences.The teaser of the article reads in my translation as follows: Economy
27 February 2019, 05:18 Hartz IV
Job centres spend 60 million euros to collect 18 million
• Job centers must also reclaim small amounts from Hartz IV recipients. This causes an enormous administrative effort.
• In 2018, a total of 18 million euros in small amounts of up to 50 euros were reclaimed. However, this cost around 60 million euros. This is shown by new figures available to SZ.
• Reclaims are made when job centres discover that they have transferred too much to Hartz IV recipients. The Federal Agency has long demanded a de minimis limit for smaller amounts.

But isn’t this exactly against the principles? Yes and no – as there are two principles: the one is about what we learn from an article in the guardian?

They shop frugally, use credit cards rarely and save up to a third of a property’s value before applying for a mortgage.

There is another, though in some way linked, principle: discipline and discipline-enforcing zero-tolerance policies – honoring the cent is the ultimate rule, even if it costs a fortune … and even if it for the price of self-denial. Looking at conservatism, it sometime too simple to reduce things on black and white – they are simply deep, dark black.  

The Price to be paid

Much has been said about the price to be paid for success … and often the German’s are praised: zeal, diligence …, though Protestantism was and is not necessarily dominant amongst the Germans, this tribe is often presented as incarnation of the protestant work ethics (as Max Weber analysed it). Topics for many discussions; many topics for discussion.

One aspect, often forgotten, had been mentioned by Immanuel Kant, though emerging from a possibly unexpected, even unrecognised context (English below):   

Die vorzügliche Achtungsbezeigung in Worten und Manieren selbst gegen einen nicht Gebietenden in der bürgerlichen Verfassung – die Reverenzen, Verbeugungen (Complimente), höfische – den Unterschied der Stände mit sorgfältiger Pünktlichkeit bezeichnende Phrasen, – welche von der Höflichkeit (die auch sich gleich Achtenden nothwendig ist) ganz unterschieden sind – das Du, Er, Ihr und Sie, oder Ew. Wohledlen, Hochedeln, Hochedelgebornen, Wohlgebornen ( ohe, iam satis est !) in der Anrede als in der Pedanterei die Deutschen unter allen Völkern der Erde (die indische Kasten vielleicht ausgenommen) es am weitesten gebracht haben, sind das nicht Beweise eines ausgebreiteten Hanges zur Kriecherei unter Menschen? ( Hae nugae in seria ducunt. ) Wer sich aber zum Wurm macht, kann nachher nicht klagen, daß er mit Füßen getreten wird.[1]

Preferential tributes of respect in words and manners even to those who have no civil authority – reverences, obeisance’s (compliments) and courtly phrases marking with the utmost precision every distinction in rank, is something altogether different from courtesy (which is necessary even for those who respect each other equally) – the Du, Er, Ihr and Sie, or Ew. Wohledeln, Hochedeln, Hochedelgeborenen, Wohlgeborenen (ohe, iam satis est!) as forms of address, a pedantry in which the Germans seem to outdo any other people in the world (except possibly the Indian castes): Does not all this prove that there is a widespread propensity to servility in men? (Hae nugae in seria ducunt) But one who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him.[2]

Worthwhile to think about it, not least as it reminds a bit of Mills, thinking about the dissatisfied human and the satisfied pig.

It may be worth to mention that, looking for the text on the internet, usually quotations omit the last sentence, thus, I would say, omitting the price to be paid for such success.

[1]    (Kant, Immanuel, 1793: Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft. Die Metaphysik der Sitten; 437)

[2]    (Kant, Immanuel, 1793: The Metaphysics of Morals; Introduction, translation, and notes by Mary Gregor; New York et altera: Cambridge Univesity Press, 1991: 232)

Grades, Degrees and Principles

It surely is in some respect a no-go-area for reflection, relating the brutal banality of evil of a man facing

15 criminal charges, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the Jewish people.

… – and still it is a field of reflection that has to be entered, not aiming on mocking anybody or anything as it is suggested as part of the debate on “little Eichmanns”, supposedly denying the sincerity and the difference of war crimes, as argued by Henri Clemens (Clemens Heni, November 2, 2008: Secondary Anti-Semitism: From Hard-Core to Soft-Core Denial of the Shoah). Such position may easily be seen as denial of the banality of evil, waiting until it is too late  ….  

We have to remember Martin Niemoeller’s words:

  • First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.


It is the time of the year again, students worrying about their future, teachers eager to support them finding their way …, and going it. It is about writing academic references that are nowadays increasingly administratively defined ….. It is the time of the year again …  institutions – schools of different kind, employers, training centre, parties and NGOs …. well, and if needed hospitals for the burned-out, welfare offices for the drop-outs, prisons for the forced-outs and whoever else comes to mind being waiting …, opening their doors to help everybody finding a place in this democracy of which

it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time

T&C apply – and when it comes to terms & conditions, one of the decisive questions, easily forgotten, is: Who is, who is the actual actor? Or is it a What-Actor?

It had been frequently mentioned on these pages that in the academic world – as in so many other worlds – it is administrative systems, paralysing people who then paralyse people … – does the law of six degrees of separation also apply here? Will the fifth who has to be paralysed, end in a coma; the sixth immediately going down into the grave, even if physically still alive?

Preparing a presentation I gave some time ago in Ostrava, Neil Postman’s book on Amusing ourselves to Death came to my mind, shifting the at the time frequent attention from Orwell toward Huxley, his excelling grasp of the tantalising effect of totalising amusement, entertainment …

Part of this is the increasing fragmentation – each little act needing a rule, every two rules in need of another rule by which the two are linked, brought together, of course being in need of another rule that keeps them together …., an exponentially growing rule-you-machine, rolling out a net in which also responsibility gets lost, simply not felt …, but not felt because the brain is forced into the Procrustean bed of a surveillance state, lurking around every corner:

Torturing a prisoner on the rack, Middle Ages. A 19th-century representation of a medieval torture device in use, from World of Wonders, published by Cassell and Co, (London, 1894). (Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)


  • Every wee commodity not only claiming to be an entire world but loudly demanding – Thou shalt have no other commodities before me.
  • Every little rule not only claiming to be an entire world but loudly stating – Thou shalt have no other rules before me.
  • Every little act not only claiming to be an entire world but loudly enforcing – Thou shalt think about no other act before me.  …


The consequences you have to bear, equally singular as every single commodity, rule and act. No, the consequences ARE NOT singular, they are paralysing, comatising, engraving as bringing-into-the-grave …

This points on the underlying problem – the methodological segmentation of actor, referential space, action seen as relevant and time:

If the public is only me – not in terms of individualisation but in terms of relevance: an earthquake, fire as also the beauty of a sunrise, and the relevance of my action are equally only me, my maintenance and security, safety, comfort …., enjoyment, career, arousal or anything relevant as matter of satisfaction when facing the need of emergency management, protecting against drowning in the tsunami of threats from nature, including emotions.

Hannah Arendt wrote about the banality of evil, following and analysing the process against Eichmann in Jerusalem. The massmurderer claimed that he did only what he had been asked, told to do … – rule is rule, act is act, outcome is outcome …. Eichmann’s argument: I had not been responsible, I knew, though only followed the rule … others …

Supposedly he accepted in hindsight 

I am guilty – that is the larger rule for those who accept responsibility beyond the tiny, singular rule 

another Big Bang, ending in another singularity.

It is worth to make a little side remark, looking at the work of Georg Jellinek, who studied form 1867 onwards jurisprudence, arts history, philosophy and history. He emphasised in his work not least that law – and one can thus say also administrative norms are only part of a wider setting. They cannot explain their acceptance and implementation which are a matter of society and people living in it. Or in the present context we may say: law and order is nothing that emerges simply from legally valid acts and individuals executing them orderly, i.e. within the order – the conflict Gustav Radbruch had been investigating in 1946, suggesting that in law it has to be considered that there are possible conflicts between the positive law and the requirement of material justice. Though Radbruch came to the conclusion of the superiority of positive law, he always faced the problematique of falling short where that law would stand in extreme conflict with being unbearable. It should be read as where the consequence in reality means they are not able to give an answer to the needs of reality. And as such they are not sufficient to deal with the contradictions of reality … – realities of bureaucratic and other machines:

On the other hand, when a person is called an “automaton” or a “robot” it is usually a derogatory comment denoting someone who is stiff and awkward in speech or movement; one who lacks imagination, emotion, spontaneity or a sense of humor; a fanatical follower of rules and regulations; a social or political conformist who is easily manipulated due to an inability to think critically and independently. In a recent issue of Perspectives, the news magazine of the American Historical Association, a history teacher objected to a Florida state education bill that asserted the view that Amer- ican history is “factual, not constructed,” by declaring that making students memorize information without teaching them analytic skills was tantamount to turning them into “little robots.”

(Kang, Minsoo, 2011: Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. The Automaton in the European Imagination; Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: harvard university press 4)


It is the time of the year again, students worrying about their future, teachers eager to support them finding their way …, and going it. It is about writing academic references that are nowadays increasingly administratively defined ….

…. paradoxically so many complaining, criticising …., and clicking the link, ticking the box ….. it is the rule – a rule I cannot change …., and isn’t clicking, ticking …. an act of banality …. a wee act, not doing any harm, and if it does do any harm it is actually done by others … Providing the garrote is not using it, is not even telling others to do so …., we may even warn them while handing it over to the tyrant:

Not cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.

(Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zuerich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; with reference to Aristotle: Athenische Verfassung; XV, 5)


on administrative issues, simple money issues …  Well the many other things: professional ones or …, well, what is called “private/personal” – and being in the middle of it .., and trying to resist: cosy links, giving in when certain requirements are put forward …, and permanently asking if there is a definitive frontier line where TREASON begins, if and where. Knowing well, that there had been and still is very interesting stuff going on. But the latter makes it somewhat more difficult. Recently I had been reading some “old stuff”, 60s, more 70s and even 80s. So many wise things said – then it had been dealing with other “items” as Postman’s look at TV which could be written today, with wee alterations, now on computers and the WWW.

Who listened and listens?

There are so many things going on about critique of using SSCI- or SCOPUS as standard …, and when it comes to the point … , bubbles not only in the economy. Or, of course I have to say this: it is part of the economy: the material basis, the way in which people price and reproduce their daily life, and that is a matter of the economy …

Of course, it my sound like being over the top, but how often do we have to ask questions that are at least in structural terms, in principle, like those we see dealt with in the theatre play Terror, in legal cases as the one Fuller had been writing about under the title Case of the Speluncean Explorers … where is the tipping point that marks the step into the middle of the banality of evil …, and the step where resistance turns into “integration on a higher level” – I could have used this expression as one line of the Ostrava-talk mentioned earlier: there it had been Bansky, apparently protesting, revolting … attempted subversion coming out at the other end as submerging: the stream of the banality: in that case “arts as object of speculation”, in other cases – and they bother me again: letting one student down, because I cannot accept what I think is “terror of administration” against studentship: Warwick (again) writing something as ‘We cannot accept reference letters sent as mail attachment, you have to create an account, log in, …. Well, I wrote, answering:

I am terribly sorry that you submitted yourself under the rule of technological dictatorship – and I am upset that you force other people to do the same – which is …

Read Hannah Arendt  on The Banality of Evil – that is where you will find yourself.

You may accept the letter attached or otherwise I feel sorry for the student for the fact that I cannot do the secretarial service for a university that did not learn from its own history, and is dealing with colleagues in a highly disrespectful and offending way, using outdated procedures.

Upset, sincerely upset

Peter Herrmann

And what happens: an automated reply

Sometimes it may be even better getting this kind of reply than getting another lie, directly and personally stated, with a smile. I wanted to write “credenced with a smile” – thinking there would be something in English like the German Kredenzen: “present, in a more or less celebratory way … “ – there is no such term, but in English we have the term “credence”, of which the dictionary says:

Well, at least for me it is difficult to live with such tension – being aware of it, assuming that people are actually not “bad”, not all people .. , and still: there is the ultimate need to overcome such banality …, before we really end up sliding into it again … – well, you see, I still try to make sense, even trying to gain energy from all this, against the odds, and against the temptation to give in into the ultimate urge of the ultimate paralysis.

It is in this way that the Christmas-hustle and bustle put me off, as every year, like so many celebrations. Bubble-happiness then, perhaps it is the complement of bubble economies that are living in the stream of … bubbles, a huge stream, being fed by a spring of foam.


As stated in the beginning

It surely is in some respect a no-go-area for reflection. Eichman and the little bailiffs … – and still it is a field of reflection that has to be entered, unmasking the authoritarian personality ….

And then we arrive at the strangulation of young people, eager to study, though pushed towards pressing a button …. call it gamification of applications, then of studying, then of work – you may get the gamification also without the detour …. – no studies needed, many of the new gods with their temples in Silicon Valley, are drop outs, many even (quasi-) criminals ….

strangulating everybody who … resists the need to go beyond the excitement of 


for like


for excitement – and do not allow any negative feeling, critique, discourse ….



Principiis obsta. Sero medicina parata, cum mala per longas convaluere moras.

Wehre den Anfängen! Zu spät wird die Medizin bereitet, wenn die Übel durch langes Zögern erstarkt sind

And indeed, Ovid’s words are relevant … – can’t we see some amorousness when looking at the pedantic errand boys and errand girls , proud and nescient …?

Finally again Martin Niemoeller’s words:

  • First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.

Or in the words of C. Wright Mills, written in 1956 in his book on The Power Elite

It is much safer to celebrate civil liberties than to defend them; it is much safer to defend them as a formal right than to use them in a politically effective way. Even those who would most willingly subvert these liberties usually do so in their very name. It is easier still to defend someone else’s right to have used them years ago than to have something yourself to say now and to say it now forcibly. The defense of civil liberties—even of their practice a decade ago—has become the major concern of many liberal and once leftward scholars. All of which is a safe way of diverting intel- lectual effort from the sphere of political reflection and demand.

Honesty Lost?

Tyranny of Lost Honesty

Truth Or: About Clouds and Roads


Only Problems of Academics?

The Moral of the Story is …


Tyranny of Lost Honesty

Not cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.[1]

Of course, there are good reasons for proper referencing, based on sound and serious work with books, how, otherwise, should we climb up on the shoulders of giants ….., to borrow from Isaac Newton.

But if serious work is ridiculed by paranoia-infected, formalist series-killers of intellectual freedom one may have to think if one should change discipline, from giant-climbing to em–powerwalking, enabling the intellect to breath again … Or as Frédéric Gros writes:

Many others have written their books solely from their reading of other books, so that many books exude the stuffy odour of libraries. By what does one judge a book? By its smell (and even more, as we shall see, by its cadence). Its smell: far too many books have the fusty odour of reading rooms or desks. Lightless rooms, poorly ventilated. The air circulates badly between the shelves and becomes saturated with the scent of mildew, the slow decomposition of paper, ink undergoing chemical change. The air is loaded with miasmas there. Other books breathe a livelier air; the bracing air of outdoors, the wind of high mountains, even the icy gust of the high crags buffeting the body; or in the morning, the cool scented air of southern paths through the pines. These books breathe. They are not overloaded, saturated, with dead, vain erudition.[2]

At least such setting comes to mind if a publisher, and not only one, is now asking to mention, when inserting tables, matrices etc. something like “own calculation”…. – next step up the ladder of mental tyranny: every sentence requires a footnote: this sentence had been written by myself …. .

The policing ideas are surely not coming from mentally healthy people, who’re are able to make use of the qualification the surely have. It may be that they are actually not coming from people at all – instead emerging from weird apparatuses, independent as a quasi-demon, reminding of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice:

Sir, my need is sore.

Spirits that I’ve cited

My commands ignore.

To the lonely

Corner, broom!

Hear your doom.

As a spirit

When he wills, your master only

Calls you, then ‘tis time to hear it.[3]

More boxing …, the concept against which I argue since some time ….

What is astonishing is that we factually – we = at least too many in academia, factually = in too many cases of writing, administratively and political-economically defining performance – simply accept the bending of law, perhaps with a grumble and an acquaintance, more or less certain within, but factually without counter-censorship and without demanding two, nevertheless, generally valid legal principles:

  • the acceptance of innocence until proven otherwise
  • the obligation of the plaintiff to prove the accusation

It is much safer to celebrate civil liberties than to defend them; it is much safer to defend them as a formal right than to use them in a politically effective way. Even those who would most willingly subvert these liberties usually do so in their very name. It is easier still to defend someone else’s right to have used them years ago than to have something yourself to say now and to say it now forcibly. The defense of civil liberties – even of their practice a decade ago – has become the major concern of many liberal and once leftward scholars. All of which is a safe way of diverting intellectual effort from the sphere of political reflection and demand.[4]

Truth Or: About Clouds and Roads

In the piece The Roads Around Pisa, Karen Blixen wrote

How difficult it is to know the truth. I wonder if it is really possible to be absolutely truthful when you are alone. Truth, like time, is an idea arising from, and dependent upon, human intercourse. What is the truth about a mountain in Africa that has no name and not even a footpath across it? The truth about this road is that it leads to Pisa, and the truth about Pisa can be found within books written and read by human beings. What is the truth about a man on a desert island? And I, I am like a man on a desert island.[5]

Why? Why can truth be characterised this way, as part of walking together one road? And why can one feel this way, deserted, (a)lone(ly) on an island? One reason behind it will be that we are not really acknowledging the fact that we are ourselves only by others – call it ubuntu if you need a name, though remain aware of the fact that it is probably a term that can only be understood by people who ubuntued instead of growing up Western-ly enlightened (or should we say something like who Montesquieu-ed?).[6]To ubuntu then is about knowing the wings of freedom it gives, also feeling the marks of strangulation that come with it, and knowing that no arithmetic sum can be gained to measure its value.

Truth, as much as it is about ‘objective facts’ which includes social facts as approached by Durkheim in sociology, existing independent of any consciousness, is importantly also itself a social fact, on the one hand by being result of our common action, on the other hand by being important element of and for our common action: experiences we have – together with others, or at least together in one space – are the foundation of further experience, further action, further contest, be it contest between people or between people and the objective environment which itself is changed depending on how we approach it, what we do with our experience of it. Though this may sound difficult, it actually is trivial. Go out one of these winter days, just wearing a t-shirt, at the side of your friend who is properly wrapped up … . You will start to feel cold (most likely at least); s/he will say that you are silly, you will physically eventually suffer, may have to stay in bed, put up the heating etc. … it will not necessarily be warmer when you go for a walk next time but, as small as it may be, there is some contribution also from here with regards to global warming. So, yes, there is some reason for saying

If a butterfly flip its wings in one part of the world it is able to cause storm in another part!

Now, there is also some link from here to the referencing. Without denying in any way the need for proper referencing, it is easy to see that it is simply breeding lies when it is getting over the top. The following illustration tries to show this:



Of course, any knowledge comes from somewhere, and thus anything we state comes from somewhere. This ‘somewhere’ develops by way of differentiation, roles historically and individually into some form of formal education [which is also the education in form(alitie)s], cascades up the stream of higher education in humanities and finally evaporating into general knowledge, be it general academic knowledge or ‘general literacy’. Thinking, writing, discoursing surely needs referencing. However, it only makes sense if it is about a definite reference as quote or paraphrasing or reflection of … in the sense of ‘see’ and ‘conferatur’. It does not make sense as matter of claiming ‘property’ where t property does already exist = it does to make sense to say: this is said by me (there are exceptions: to reclaim property: “This is what I said, the other took it from me.” or: “This is what I say, even if all others do not accept it.”)  Strangely enough, publishers and academics are easily accepting extremely sloppy references taking the form of name and date stated, without letting the reader know why they forget mentioning the ‘cf.’ It equally accepted to refer to …, let’s say

Kant, Immanuel. Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime. Trans. John T. Goldthwait. University of California Press, 1961, 2003

This had been taken on the 12/15/18 8:25:45 AM from

@ from Wikipedia and similar things can be found in books, journals … – oh folks, the Kant who wrote the ‘observations’ in 1764, published 1799 in English language was in 1861 simply dead as a doornail.

– Over-Referencing is surly not much more than an intellectual masturbation of pity bourgeois, not knowing much, having read a lot and completely lacking the courage to say the little they may think quasi-independently, or lacking the courage to think independently …. Or is it about pushing academics – and all of us – finally to take Whithead’s words in Process and Reality

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradi- tion is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

literally. That is surely equally misleading …

Only Problems of Academics?

As such, these are indeed problems of academics – and let’s face it: many widely abused their power by reputation, the lack of control of performance and ethical standards, one of the “highlights” the former minister for education resigning over PhD-plagiarism.

This is of course already something that goes beyond the academic world and effects everybody – as matter of such people being in positions where they decide for instance over the future of our children. Coincidentally, while writing, I receive a mail from the Council of Europe, talking about

Students as suspects? – The challenges of counter-radicalisation policies in education in the Council of Europe member states

But there is even more to it: it is the spirit that pervades in such attitudes: such request for permanent proof, such spirit of distrust is lurking behind so many forms we have to complete, so many authorisations we need – it is the spirit of tyranny Hannah Arendt was talking about starting from the assumption that we are all criminals while giving us an opportunity to show that we are not – it is the opportunity within a strangulated public of a surveillance state.

Far reaching, indeed, and a matter of The Struggle for Law, about which Rudolph Jhering writes[7]and which is really relevant even when it comes to The Tip and how to deal with it – as the same author writes[8]

Ob die hier gemachten Vorschläge Aussicht auf Verwirklichung haben? Man giebt uns Deutschen Schuld, dass wir einen Stein im Wege, an dem wir uns stossen, ruhig liegen lassen — Jeder verwünsche ihn, aber Niemand nähme sich die Mühe, ihn aus dem Wege zu räumen oder, wenn er für ihn allein zu schwer sei, Andere zur Hülfe herbeizuziehen. Das Trinkgelderunwesen ist ein solcher Stein, Jeder klagt über ihn, aber Jeder lässt ihn liegen. Der Vorwurf, den wir gegen den Stein erheben, richtet sich gegen uns selber; wer eine Unsitte bloss verwünscht, anstatt für seinen Theil mitzuwirken, sie zu beseitigen, klagt sich selber an — für das Bestehen einer Unsitte ist Jeder, der nicht den Muth hat, ihr entgegenzutreten, selber mit verantwortlich, Niemand hat das Recht, sich über sie zu beklagen, als derjenige, der sich das Zeugniss ausstellen kann, seinerseits Alles gethan zu haben, was in seinen Kräften stand, um ihr ein Ende zu machen. Jeder meiner Leser kann sich damit in Bezug auf das Trinkgelderunwesen sein eigenes Urtheil sprechen.

Thanks to

Do the proposals made here have any prospect of being implemented? We Germans are blamed for leaving a stone in our way lying quietly – everyone desires it, but no one takes the trouble to remove it or, if it is too heavy for him alone, to bring others to help. The unbeing of tips is such a stone, everyone complains about it, but everyone leaves it lying. The reproach which we make against the stone is directed against ourselves; he who merely curses a bad habit, instead of cooperating for his part in eliminating it, accuses himself – everyone who does not have the courage to oppose it is himself responsible for the existence of a bad habit; no one has the right to complain about it, as he who can give the testimony has done everything in his power to put an end to it. Each of my readers can thus speak his own judgment with regard to the tipping misdemeanour.

(Translated with

The Moral of the Story is …

Kant, in his Metaphysics of Ethics summarised it in a short sentence – the simple thing, of which it is so difficult to get it right:

… he who first makes himself a worm, does not complain when he trampled under foot.


[1]    Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zurich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; the 2nd English edition: Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition; Introduction by Margaret Canovan; Chicago: University of Chicago Press; second edition 1998 does not contain the passage in this way

[2]    Passi di: Frederic Gros. “A Philosophy of Walking”. Apple Books.

[3]    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1797: Zauberlehrling [The Sorcerer’s Apprentice]; translation by Edwin Zeydel

[4]    Mills, C. Wright, 1956: The Power Elite; Oxford University Press, 2000: 334

[5]     Passi di: Isak Dinesen. “Seven Gothic Tales. Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)”. Apple Books

[6]     Of course, making such statement evokes the need to qualify it, stating at least: such characterisations have to be taken with care, they are based on out limited knowledge, they are ideal-types/idealisations and as such they are also based on the current view, neglecting for instance several ‘ubuntu qualities’ and also individualist aspects in both our histories.

[7]    Jhering, Rudolph von, 1879: The Struggle for Law

[8]    Jhering, Rudolph von, 1882: Das Trinkgeld

Principiis obst! Mind the beginning!

We talked a couple of times about Hannah Arendt – point of departure was actually something that seems to be very distant from her work: criteria that constitutional courts can refer to when taking decisions. And of course, taking the perspective from the legal doctrine is different from that taken by others. Funnily enough, legal doctrine translates into German as Rechtsdogmatik – suggesting something like dogmatic law, of even dogmatic thinkers on legal issues?

At some stage I mentioned some literature to my office mate – stuff I would think being important on this topic. Books, some more or less legalist, at least coming from sociology of law, philosophy of law, and perhaps stuff philosophising on justice – we both laughed when I dared to say – mind, to a jurist:
law is not interested in justice, hardly knows about it. what we share – legal scientists and economists – is a more or less blind interest in coherence. that may be rather simple: you put numbers and articles and even laws, we put numbers on goods and people – no matter on how bad the goods are, no matter how deep personalities are buried behind the figures.
 We laughed, knowing that it is reality and when it is lived reality it is harsh.
After such books, and after working a bit on our different tasks, I interrupted the silence:
Right, there is another one: Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition. it is probably the most comprehensive book she wrote, and from reading this, it is possible to understand the others …  to least the one on he Eichmann-trial and the banality of evil.
 A short chat, a couple of days later, we had been sitting for lunch – just across the street. Else a rather dull, grey day. I don’t know why she asked me about Hannah and Martin Heidegger … – I said what I knew, and part of it, actually part of the question had been already about Heidegger’s relationship to the fascists.
The romantic relationship between the two philosophers was known as a difficult one – and apparently the relationship between Heidegger and the fascists had not been so clear …
– can one say it was part of this banality of evil? We talked about it, the time, the difficulty of admitting that it is difficult. For me it is again and again emotionally a difficult matter, having known comrades, colleagues, friends who went through that hell – making impossible to accept that those had been ordinary people.
It could be him
I pointed on the table to the left
or her
my eyes moved to the right. I looked into her eyes:
It could be you — or do you know if it is not me at some stage?
It was loud, the snowfall was not too bad and I proposed to leave. I opened the brelli:
Let’s go to the LMU. I do not know exactly where it is …
– did you ever hear about the Geschwister Scholl?
She did not – and I told her the bit I knew, talked also about Anne Frank, my visit in the Anne Frank House, im Amsterdam. I remembered, at the end of the museum little notes, one asking
Why do we feel such a pity for this one child, knowing that there had been so many more being brutally slaughtered. – it is because we hardly can cope with this one, bearing the large number would crash us completely. 
After a while we found one person who could help us finding the way – and a little while later we find the little memorial – I had to swallow, as usual when being confronted with my past which is not my past and against which I had been fighting. I managed, we entered – we walked along the exhibits, I have had the impression getting slower and slower. And for my part I was wondering if it was right to put all this weight on her shoulders. Or if it was my duty? Or …just something like a waste of time?
 After we left, we stood a while at the bottom of the broad stairs …
Do you know, I fell sometimes so … riven, so unsure, insecure …
She talked about Korea, the occupation by the Japanese … – and I had to ask sincerely and honestly to forgive me for not knowing anything about her country. A bit later, when we walked back to the Institute, I remembered Albert Einstein – I used this reference to underline what I said before, and already while we have had lunch:
I cannot guarantee that I would be as brave as these people – I would like to be, but would I be as strong as they had been? Albert, with all his knowledge, he was one of the enablers – finally his contribution mad it possible that the USA developed the nuclear weapon. And he did so intentionally, ‘knowing’ that the bomb in the hands of the US would better than it would be in the hands of the fascist Germany. Later, when he knew better, namely that it had been used so senseless, the US playing with the muscles without any military need and humane consideration, he changed not just his mind but concentrated much of his effort on condemning .., well part of his own deeds. – Braveness …
The morning of the same day I submitted another recommendation letter for  student – the boxing exercise – the mail to the university is already prepared but I have to wait, sending it:
Earlier I just submitted a recommendation – and I dare to make a recommendation to your institution:
Be professional and serious, and do not breach confidentiality law – there is much improvement for you, actually I was near to recommend to the student not to go further with the application due to your highly unprofessional way of treating students.
Sincerely worrying about the quality of academic standards I remain
Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann
The evening I went to a presentation at the institute:
„Jenseits der Praxis? Die aktuellen Vorschläge für eine Reform des Gemeinsamen Europäischen Asylsystems (GEAS) aus rechtlicher und praktischer Sicht“
 A very clear presentation, also highlighting some fundamental flaws – followed by a ‘soft debate’, leaving some important points out,
Principiis obsta. Sero medicina parata, cum mala per longas convaluere moras.
Mind the beginning| Too late the remedy is prepared when the evil became stronger simply by time.
Ovid wrote it, thinking Remedia Amoris – what then about the self-loving academics …?
Today, I went for my usual walk  the first time that I really was getting aware of the name of the one street I passed so often: Ackermannstreet – the city of Munich still celebrating this loyal property of a man who had to go to court because of misappropriation,
This day I did not listen to my usual lectures and audio-plays, I remembered my last visit in Athens. After that visit I wrote:
a long way … from the priests on the Acropolis [ἄκρον (akron, “highest point”) and πόλις (polis)] to the gardens which had been the roaming place of the philosophers to the reality of today’s Europe.
It is a way full of the tensions: on the one hand the small academies of free thinking – free and ready for the hemlock; on the other hand the abduction, about which Maria Mies wrote in the one book on Europe I edited [Mies, Maria, 1999: Europe in the Global Economy or the Need to De-Colonize Europe; in: Peter Herrmann (Ed.): Challenges for a Global Welfare System: Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.: 153-171].
Studying the history – sine ira et studio – as Tacitus said.
Also making history without hate and zealousness? There is always the danger then of abduction: the legal doctrine, expressed in the constitutional state, the state under the rule of law is turned into the one-sided application of law, its consistency the utmost and only validation. The economic doctrine, being caught in the mirage of closed systems, the equations make equal what is different, and not able to see that not figures but power matters.
Life goes on – only not forgetting its complexity and ambiguity can make us free. [I could not find the link to the one, the eleventh song].

where legal scholars and economist (should) sit at the same table

And of course, they should be joined by political scientists and politicians …

As usual, i am working on different projects, the one being the preparation of the workshop on The political economy of right wing populism, the other the question of digitisation and, of not anything else: continuing the work we started in February as part of the International scientific and practical seminar: “Occupation: Russian practice and international experience”: the book I am editing together with Vyacheslav Bobkov – we will discuss this further during the International Scientific-Practical Conference

“Instability Of Employment: Russian And International Contexts Of Changing The Legislation On Labour And Employment”

commencing tomorrow at the ФГБОУ ВПО “РЭУ им. Г.В. Плеханова” in Moscow

where I arrived a few minutes ago, coming from Anhui.

The following paragraph – the draft of a co-written contribution, that links to the different projects mentioned – may be worthwhile to be published here – taken out of its original context, valid in various contexts that characterise in my view much of the current situation in which economic greediness and acquisitiveness, political populism, and so-called hedonism alike are finding futile ground. So the para is the following:

… this is about the ‘major conflicts’ but also about the small print. One example may do suffice – in fact it is one that also shows that we are facing a thorough interpenetration, already going on for a long time, reaching seemingly unrecognised into the mentality: the common law tradition is increasingly eroding for a simple reason: “modern business” needs reliable frameworks for “mathematised rationalities” and “protestant ethics” – something that common law does not guarantee to the same extent as civil law (Romano-Germanic tradition). This is a particularly interesting example as it clearly shows the way in which accumulation regime and mode of regulation are entangled. This is expressed not only expressed in the fact of the legal regulations ‘for business’ as a system of systematic compilation and deductions (Leges Duodecim Tabularum or Duodecim Tabulae) but also in the regulatory system itself establishing the tradition of the “constitutional state” (Rechtsstaat).

Interestingly, this comes right now under pressure and is in different ways qualified, hollowing out the scope and degree of liability of the state,[1] the emphasis of individuality (including corporate social responsibility) and the accentuation of ‘governance’ as systematic deregulation of government. Such shifts can be found by way of “Global Governance”, characterised by different strands, entangled like the threats of a rope: (i) international and global organisations play increasingly a role and in tendency even openly contesting state power; (ii) not strictly “statutory” in character, there is a tendency of strong think tanks developing power positions that go far beyond the traditional role of opinion leaders: the World Economic Forum, The Bilderberg Conference and the Club de Madrid are examples, all characterised by the fact that leading representatives of big business, [former] members of governments and some mainstream ‘trendy’ academics are part of these undertakings; (iii) the traditional lines of division and distinction are frequently blurred and contested – here it is about socio-economic strata but also about boundaries of states, regions etc.; (iv) non-binding, often “think-tank-like” left-intellectual-liberal proposals; (v) critical and clientelist claims (iv) new ethics also being brought forward in organisations as the WEF, IMF, WB and Bilderberg. – It has to be said that all this does not replace objective societal structures and division; much of the effect can probably be seen as reflection of changing processes of politisation: the trend of a flattening can be seen on the one hand, establishing mechanisms of ‘presentationalism’ as dominant feature, supporting the emergence of a post-factual; on the other hand we find the push and pull effects when it comes to redefining politics as administrative issues, solely bound to factuality and rules.[2]

[1] This is still relevant even if we accept that even the Rechtsstaats-traditon strongly emphasised “The Limits of State Action” as the title of the work by Wilhelm von Humboldt suggested (see Humboldt, Wilhelm von, 1792: The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action); London: John Chapman, 1854)

[2] one has to acknowledge that there is ontologically and epistemologically a close kinship between post-truth and evidence based politics and policies, both dissecting complex truth.